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date: 09 May 2021


  • F.W. Sternfeld


Libretto subject used in many periods.

On the surface, the myth of Orpheus seems tailor-made for opera: a tale of faithful love beyond the grave and the magical power of music. In reality the well-known story has impressed the Western mind more as a symbol of a superhuman protagonist who conquers death, and who is at various times perceived as a prophet, a sage, a ‘shaman’ or an allegorical depiction of Christ, Apollo, Dionysus or Osiris. The Orpheus plot looms large in the history of the stage from Aeschylus to Tennessee Williams and in the history of stage music from Renaissance intermedi to Stravinsky and Birtwistle. The ubiquitous myth appears not only in operas and ballets (and films) that bear the names of Orpheus or Eurydice (or their spelling variants) in the titles, but also as important episodes, for instance in a play by Seneca or an opera by Cavalli (...

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